As such, it really should be ignored.”
I’m quoting from the Baptist Press and their article about the Backyard Skeptics, a group in California that chose today to point to the bible’s most immoral passages and symbolically do something about them. They’ll be at Huntington Pier in Orange County at 2 PM to do their stunt. More from Kelly Boggs and the Press:
A tiny Christian church announces plans to burn the Quran and it is trumpeted from coast to coast. However, an atheist group announces it is going to rip pages out of a Bible and the silence is deafening.
To be fair, when Pastor Jones did in fact burn the Quran on March 20 of this year, the government and some in the media attempted to downplay the event. However, the desecration was not completely overlooked, unlike the atheist attack on the Bible which is being completely ignored.
I have a response that may or may not be correct. Christians outnumber atheists by a very large margin. Therefore, so do news stories involving either.
Terry Jones chose to advertise his act with a mock trial posted to Youtube and his group doused the book with kerosene to “execute” it once it was found guilty. A stupid move, but within his rights in a free country, yes? Not long after, there were several UN deaths in Afghanistan that people claim might not have happened had Jones left that book alone.
But, as the Guardian report indicates, the guy already had a history of promoting his anti-Islam slant and the internet made it so much easier for him. He didn’t need television and newspaper coverage. This story made it around the world in such a hurry because Christians and atheists and Muslims (and everyone one else) found that story and helped Jones’ cause immensely by sharing it with everyone they knew on every social network. Jones and company could only reach those who followed them. Without an audience to find this action appalling enough to tell others about, Jones never would have bothered going through with it. Or, if he did, he still would have remained a relatively unknown fringe looney. Unfortunately, he couldn’t be ignored. Everyone’s so wary of Muslims, especially fundamentalist Muslims, and their very low tolerance for insults against Islam. There was no way this could have slid under a rug and been ignored.
The “atheist attack on the Bible” is not entirely ignored but he’s right about few papers picking up on it. At the time of writing, Google lists 7 articles.
The Examiner, Newser, and Inquisitr merely mention the OC Register’s article, so they don’t actually count. The Register quotes Ray Comfort who makes what I think is a valid point about Christians being taught to love their enemies. Christians who are upset by this are far less likely to retaliate with actual violence. No idea how much more “You’re going to burn in hell, hooray!” correspondence the group will wind up with on account of this, though. They might even get some hot-under-the-collar death threats that they can pass along to police. Christians have been known to do that sort of thing when angry enough. Are they angry enough over the Backyard Skeptics to go that far? Time will tell. Love your enemies so long as they play nice, I suppose, and all agree the Christians are completely right…
The Register notes that the group will have copies of Thomas Jefferson’s hand-edited bible available for viewing and quotes Bruce Gleason, leader of the group:
“We want to make this a better world for secular and humanistic values,” Gleason said. “We don’t believe prayer works. We don’t believe religion adds anything except a sense of false hope.”
You are free to agree or disagree with those comments, as they are free to disagree with people who promote the opposite.
The Christian Post smartly informs readers that the atheists in question are tearing into photocopies, not actual bibles. They quote Gleason, too:
“It’s really a public education program…we’re not trying to desecrate the Bible, we’re just trying to let others know that there are certain portions of the Bible that they would probably agree with that they don’t live by,” he said.
“We’re not trying to offend people, though I will acknowledge that people will be upset simply because we’re taking passages out of the Bible.”
A blog at OC Weekly picked up the story but didn’t run very far with it. Matt Coker chose to quote this, though:
“Many Christians feel the Bible is inerrant and has no contradictions or immoral passages,” Backyard Skeptics note. “Most Christians have not read the Bible or can even recite the Ten Commandments. A recent Pew poll indicated that atheists know more about the Bible than Christians do.”
So back to the Baptist Press:
It is likely you are just now learning about the California atheist group’s plan to rip the Bible on Sept. 17. It remains to be seen if there will be any media attention after the fact, but likely there will be very little. In the eyes of too many in the media, it is perfectly OK to rip Christians and their sacred text.
And here’s what Boggs and his ilk don’t seem to get: it should be OK.
It should be okay to disagree and disagree publicly. It should be completely okay to demonstrate a disrespect for beliefs and ideologies, especially when they run contrary to evolution, biology in general, or human rights as we tend to define them in our societies today. It’s important to encourage questions and critical thinking, to not blindly follow 2000 year old words just because someone once told you to have faith in them. It’s important to illustrate that there are other ways to think and live and believe. There are choices. Atheists choose to support the theory that gods don’t exist and for us, it’s a hard theory to disprove. Pointing to a bible verse isn’t proof of anything concrete. Point to the stars in the sky or a rainbow or a sunrise or perfect petals on a flower and we don’t see a miracle, we just see the wonders of nature and the universe and seek out ways to explain what we’ve seen. We think it’s silly or immature to stop at “God did it” and never look for more useful answers.
That said, not all atheists are in agreement on every issue, and not all atheists agree with the tactics groups like Backyard Skeptics use. Some, like Mojoey at Deep Thoughts, think they’ve made some dubious choices in their quest to boost atheist numbers. Agree or disagree with that.
As far as what I think, I think it’s a ripple that’s barely newsworthy anyway. People already know that atheists tend to think the bible is flawed. That’s generally why there are atheists. They aren’t destroying actual books, they’re just highlighting areas of a book that aren’t worth supporting and it’s unfortunate that more can’t agree with that publicly. A lot of Christians do ignore whole swaths of their bible on a daily basis yet when a group like Backyard Skeptics points them out, the Christians hug the whole book to them and cry foul. Why? Only they’re allowed to behave like the bits they don’t like don’t exist? Like pointing out the elephant in the room is some major faux pas? Why do they do it? Deep down, do they feel something like shame for supporting a book with that kind of bad crap in it? They’ll rationalize it, try to justify it, claim it’s allegorical, claim it’s misunderstood, or whatever, but they’ll still hang onto every word of it when it’s threatened. They won’t look at the passages with clear eyes and critical minds. They may disapprove in the silence of their own heads yet they tacitly agree with it all every time they identify publicly as Christians who believe the bible’s the inerrant word of God.
Faith is a hell of a powerful tool to use to get through life. All we atheists seem to have in our tool-box is reality and all the reality in the world can’t beat it for some reason. Why is that?